The other day as I was wasting time away on the internet, as I’m typically wont to do, someone posted this song for all the world to hear and join in on appreciating…
That’s Massive Attack’s “Paradise Circus” featuring Hope Sandoval (whom you might know from her Warm Inventions or, of course, Mazzy Fucking Star), from their last album, Heligoland. The person who posted that song the other day, Sarah Lynn Knowles, had previously listed Heligoland as one of her favorite albums of this year so far and mentioned that “Paradise Circus” was probably her favorite track of the year.
It was so weird to me, seeing those words from another person, which basically forced me to realize that this is also my favorite song from this year. I had wanted this song to my song of the summer, and what a great summer that would’ve been, but instead “Paradise Circus” became, if not the song I most identified with in some sad way over the summer, than certainly the song I probably listened to the most.
Months and months ago Conrad Noir had sent me a link to the original promotional video that went with the song, directed by Toby Dye, and I had enjoyed it, thought it was the usual amusing and charming NSFW stab at internet marketing that a serious musical artist with cred usually takes (think Sigur Rós’ “Gobbledigook” previously), but, while I loved the song, and thought that promotional video really fit it, I think something about the novelty of it just… lost me. I forgot about the song.
Not shocking. It’s been a busy year for me, and the summer has been especially crazy. Crazier than I usually am, and that’s a pretty astounding feat. Plus, I cram a lot of new music into my head. It’s a sponge most times, sucking in all the good and the bad and the everything in between, but sometimes things go in one ear and bypass the chewy center and slip right out the other ear…
But then somewhere in the past few months this song worked it’s way back into my life, back into my head, as songs are wont to do. Something about that first hearing (second, actually) was amazing, and it was probably due to my having heard it before, but either way, the song started to grow on me. I downloaded it somewhere, possessed it, played it whenever I wanted, commanding it like a snake charmer, summoning it like a genie in a musical bottle. And, like I said, it became the song of my summer, if you will. And if it wasn’t that, then it was certainly, as my itunes will certainly attest to, the song I listened to the most.
And when I started to slowly realize that, that was when the universe started throwing it in my face. As the universe is wont to do, of course. First it’s used in an episode of True Blood from this past season…
…and it’s used perfectly. And the dancer in that video is absolutely right when she mentions that she knows the secret to life and it’s simply this: “A hell I’ll never get out of alive.” And then Bill the vampire tells her, “No one ever does.” And then he adds, SOOKEH IS MAHN!”
And again, the song is used perfectly there. It’s the perfect song to be playing during a particular poignant moment with a stripper in a darkened club somewhere. It’s also the perfect song to be playing on a show about vampires and werewolves, with all the metaphors for darkness between humans at play there, and all that dirty, raunchy, wonderful sex. “Paradise Circus” is just a song that evokes something in you, something twisted but smooth, something sexy but hidden away from light. It reminds you of a time in your life that you had something nasty but wonderful going on, of when you related in a way to parts of season 6 of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and you have a hard time putting that resonance in words.
Or maybe not. Maybe that’s just me.
As I was sitting down to write this, just browsing around the wildways of the internet, as I am always so wont to do, I found another video that someone made, somewhat amateur-ish, but a glossy production.
Then, the other day I’m laying in bed watching something on my ipod, watching the first episode of Luther, the police drama that Idris Elba (Stringer Bell!) did back in his native country not too long ago, and of course “Paradise Circus” is the theme song to that song. Of course.
But, again, it fits perfectly. Luther is a dark, sexy show about a brilliant cop who’s always walking just little bit more than just a little across the dark side. I truly wish that American cop shows had not just the weight and intensity of a show like this, not just the style, but the intellect. And it’s nice to see Idris Elba (who is soon to take over the role of Alex Cross from Morgan Freeman, in addition to starring in both Kenneth Branagh’s upcoming Thor and the new Nic Cage/Ghost Rider movie) in a role where he sacrifices nothing of his presence but does shed the cleanness that we’ve seen from him on The Wire or on The Office a year or two ago, whenever it was.
The show starts with Luther tracking down his prey, a killer of women and children, and quite possibly letting the man fall to his death intentionally without helping him. The first episode, trying to avoid spoilers as much as i can here, ends with Luther’s new antagonist, whose nothing that he’s faced before or can predict, finding that killer of women and children, who survived the fall and ended up in a coma. Somewhere between those two points, Luther went a little crazy from what he did, took some time off from the job and was separated from his wife for a while. When he’s cleared of all wrong doing (oh, you foolish police inquiry boards) and returns to the job, he decides that he’s well enough to return to his wife…
When it finally happens, we’re dreading it because we know that his wife will have some bad news for him and Idris Elba’s Luther is a big and ferocious guy. The moments after she tells him her bad news in the living room of the house they once shared, the screen is absolutely charged. It feels for a moment as if no room will ever be big enough to hold his rage and sadness.As he storms off into the night away from her, I heard the echoes of the Massive Attack song just pinging around in my brain.
And then I saw the thing there on tumblr, from SarahSpy, and all of this coalesced together in my brain. But that’s okay. It’s a great song, one to be appreciated by people who have great taste in music, but also those identify with a certain something, maybe. A kind of long ago sadness or darkness, and an appreciation of that time in their life. You only see connections and links after the fact and pain, suffering, and/or sadness can only really be learned from far removed from the infliction of the wounds. And it’s all so much better when it’s set to music.